Insight Legal Chairman, Brian Welsh gives us his thoughts on the many factors to consider when you’re looking for a new legal software product or supplier and encourages researching how proactive your software company is in your particular sector
Finding a software company you can trust and build a relationship with is hugely important.
But there’s one other question you should ask yourself too:
How proactive is your software company in your particular sector?
That’s an easy one to overlook, but their accreditations for, and visibility in, the markets they serve are valuable indicators of how committed they are to the work they do… and how committed they’ll be to the work they’ll do for you.
Here are a few things to look for:
Accreditations / Strategic partnering with professional bodies in your sector
Professional bodies don’t give accreditations lightly. You can be sure they performed their due diligence before allowing the software company to use their badge on the company website and promotional materials.
For example, our company has been examined and approved by (among others), The Law Society and The Law Society of Scotland. To take The Law Society as an example, that means we had to undergo a period of rigorous assessment and due diligence checks before The Law Society was satisfied that our software is of genuine benefit to law firms for efficiency and practice development.
Not only did The Law Society recognise that our software can help law firms with performance and management challenges including compliance, productivity and efficiency; they made us a strategic partner because of the specific value and knowledge we provide to the legal sector.
What specific value and knowledge does your current software company provide to your sector?
Are they active members of your sector’s trade association?
Insight Legal is a proud member of the Legal Software Suppliers Association (LSSA). The LSSA is the trade organisation for the legal technology industry. It sets and maintains professional standards within our industry and manages areas of mutual interest between lawyers and software providers. So, before the LSSA allowed us to become members, they made sure that we ticked all their boxes and shared those same goals.
Is your current software provider a member of your sector’s trade association? (or ‘association’s’ because there can often be more than one.)
Are they merely using their membership as a listing, or are they actively contributing? (a quick and easy way to check that is by tapping the company and the trade association’s names into a search engine and seeing what comes up.)
Do they actively provide real value by publishing leadership articles that clients and non-clients find useful and insightful?
When a software company takes time to share information with you, purely because they want to relay their knowledge or opinion in the hope you’ll find it useful (and not to make a profit or as a shallow PR exercise), that’s an excellent sign. It demonstrates their understanding of the sector you’re working in, and it shows how committed they are to being a part of it.
Take a look at their LinkedIn feed to see if they’ve published anything. How often do they post their articles? Do their articles/blogs that offer genuine information – even if it’s just a kernel or a valid point of view to think about – or are they just throwing random words out there in the hope you’ll take notice? If it’s easy and entertaining to read, that’s a plus too, because it means they know how to communicate their ideas clearly and they’ve got a voice and ‘attitude’ you can connect with. When you’re looking for a new software provider, ‘chemistry’ is a big bonus. Similarly, if you read articles your current software provider’s written, but they don’t give you value or gel with your own opinions, that could be a sign you’re working with the wrong company.
But don’t automatically discount them if they don’t publish on LinkedIn. After all, LinkedIn isn’t the only place where they could be sharing knowledge. If it’s not there, take a look at the ‘Blog’ or ‘News’ pages on their website (if they have them) to see how valuable and up to date they are. Have they published any white papers? Have they contributed to any of your industry’s forums or websites? Industry forums are also useful places to find out what your peers think of the software company’s work, especially if their work has garnered any special attention or raised any red flags. Type their name into the forum’s search bar and see what comes up.
Have they won any awards that are relevant to your sector?
I’ve left this until last because, let’s face it, awards aren’t everything / not every sector has its own awards / some awards aren’t worth the plastic they’re extruded from.
Having said that, if your software company has won an award that’s relevant to the field you work in, that’s another indicator of the genuine value they’re offering. It’s also an indicator of the respect they’ve earned from the award-giving body members, who are probably their clients, peers, or competitors.
The bottom line? If your software company doesn’t seem to be as proactive as you’d hoped, that isn’t necessarily bad news. For example, sometimes they might be members of a prominent sector-focused organisation but aren’t currently listed on their site (that’s happened to us, too.) Or, there’s always the scarce chance you might have overlooked something, or maybe they’re just keeping their activity very quiet. But, then, you’ve got to ask yourself why, talk to your network, and do some more digging.
Whatever sector your software company works in, it’s always wise to do your homework.